In my mind’s eye, a model community needs several positive assets: good governance, good public services (police, fire, utilities, etc.), good job opportunities, good medical facilities, well-educated citizens, scenic surroundings, and good educational opportunities (K-12 and collegiate). Los Alamos is such a community capable of possessing all of these assets. However, we as a community need to support and nourish these assets and for the most part we do support them. Unfortunately one of our jewels is under assault.
Our UNM-LA branch college has lost just under a $1 million dollars in annual state funding over the last ten years (a 35 percent decrease) while at the same time the student head count has been increasing. UNM-LA has one of the highest enrollment increases this year of all New Mexico branch colleges and continues to have one of the highest graduation rates. Unfortunately, as a community, we have one of the lowest mil rates (1 mil) in the state to support our local college. There is a need to increase our support for UNM-LA, as we are seeing more and more of our high school students looking for dual credit, increasing their post-high school competitiveness, and increasing in knowledge. Yes, these are Los Alamos children that are signing up for UNM-LA classes.
Our UNM-LA is currently staying afloat because of various grants. These grants will expire in the very near future and there is no certainty of continued funds. Since UNM-LA is part of the educational efforts in this community it seems appropriate to join with the Los Alamos Public Schools system in our community for a mail in ballot. There was no “hidden” agenda in this joint election issue, rather the thought that we can continue excellence in education, and in addition split the cost of the election by partnering.
I, like several people in Los Alamos, live on a fixed income and understand the need to watch my expenditures. However, several years ago, the public sector helped me in my education. I became better educated and I want to return the same favor. I hope you want to return the same favor you were given and support the one (1) mil levy for UNM-LA.
For transparency, I am a member of the UNM-LA Advisory Board, but this note expresses my view and not necessarily that of the board.